The Welsh Government should come clean about what it’s plans are for health services in north Wales and not hide behind un-elected and unaccountable Health Board members, said Mabon ap Gwynfor of the North Wales Health Alliance.
His call came as news broke that the Health Board were actively looking at downgrading one of the A&E Units in north Wales.
The North Wales Health Alliance warned that there were plans to downgrade one of north Wales’ A&E Units back in mid-2013. In November 2013 the health Minister, in an interview on BBC Radio Cymru’s Manylu programme, let slip that A&E services at the 3 north Wales hospitals were being examined, referring to the potential for ‘downgrading’ one of the units. He later issued a statement that the term ‘downgrading’ was a translation error on his behalf.
Mabon ap Gwynfor of the North Wales Health Alliance said: “It’s time the Government came clean about what its plans are for health services in north Wales. We’ve lost community hospitals; we have less hospital beds and nurses; neo-natal units have been downgraded; they plan to downgrade our maternity service; and now we understand that there are plans afoot to downgrade one of the A&E departments to be effectively nothing more than a Minor Injury Unit.
“We raised this concern two years ago, but it was denied. The Minister let slip a few months later that there were plans to downgrade one of the A&Es then denied it. Now we see that the Health Board are actively developing plans for this downgrade. The Government must tell us what their long term plans are for health services in north Wales.
“Campaigners from both Rochdale and south west Wales have contacted us warning that this was the path that Trevor Purt followed when in post in other Health Boards. The question must be asked, did the Welsh Government appoint him to carry out a similar job in north Wales.
“We are constantly told that decisions are clinically led, but what is clear is that is not the case and clinicians are seriously concerned about the direction of the Health Service in North Wales. It’s telling that there has been no consultation on these latest proposals, and the public and health service users have been kept in the dark.
“This salami slicing of our Health Service is damaging not only to us service users, but also to the hard working staff, and you need to question whether we should be surprised that the Board are having recruitment difficulties.
“We have an ageing population; pockets of deprivation; poor infrastructure and transport links; and a largely rural mountainous geography. There is no point comparing us with Birmingham, as the previous Health Minister memorably did. Our needs and circumstances are different. We the people of North Wales deserve to know what their plans are, and participate in a full and frank discussion about its direction; what are our needs; and what can be provided.”